CNN Poll of Polls averages across 10 key battleground states suggest tight races heading into the final two weeks of the campaign in seven states and former Vice President Joe Biden ahead in the averages of the other three, all of which President Donald Trump won in 2016.
In Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, the averages suggest Biden holds the support of a majority of voters and a sizable advantage over Trump.
The Pennsylvania average shows Biden’s largest lead. The Democratic nominee averages 52% support to Trump’s 43% in polling conducted between September 20 and October 5. In both Wisconsin and Michigan, the averages show Biden with 51% support to 43% for Trump. Trump’s victory in each of these states in 2016 came via a margin of less than a percentage point. Except for 2016, all three states broke for the Democratic candidate in each presidential election since 1992.
In 2016, Trump carried all 10 states where CNN Poll of Polls averages are being released Tuesday: Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin. He is numerically ahead of Biden in the averages of current polling in just one of these states, Texas, where his support averages 49% to Biden’s 45%.
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg is dead, court announces
Ruth Bader Ginsberg, a beloved justice and a crucial liberal vote on the Supreme Court, died this evening from complications of pancreatic cancer, the Supreme Court just announced in a news release. She was 87 years old.
National Public Radio reports that one of Ginsberg’s final messages was a statement dictated to her granddaughter: “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”
Trump now has the power to nominate a replacement for Ginsberg, and the Republican-controlled Senate to confirm a replacement.
When conservative supreme court justice Antonin Scalia died in the last year of Barack Obama’s last presidential term in 2016, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked Obama from confirming a replacement for months, arguing that the appropriate choice was to wait for the voters to choose a new president.
McConnell, who still controls the senate, is not expected to apply that standard now that it would disadvantage Republicans, even though the election is in weeks, rather than months.
Trump leads campaign crowd in booing Somali refugees
More than 50,000 people in Minnesota report Somali ancestry, the most of any state. The state’s Somali community has been there for thirty years.
Trump opened his campaign rally in Bemidji, Minnesota, by talking about Somali refugees as a threat, encouraging the crowd to boo the idea of more Somali Americans in their state, and celebrating the accomplishment that “just today we deported dozens of Somali refugees.”
“Sleepy Joe will turn Minnesota into a refugee camp,” Trump said.
CDC director pulled strings to get a Nevada Trump supporter a scarce COVID test
In early March, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention personally called the chief medical officer of Nevada to arrange a Covid-19 test for Adam Laxalt, a prominent Nevada Republican politician, National Rifle Association ally, and Trump supporter, the Reno Gazette-Journal reports.
Laxalt “believed he was exposed to the coronavirus while attending the Conservative Political Action Conference”, but he was not showing any symptoms at the time, so he could not get approved for a test through normal channels, the paper reported.
Trump’s belated aid to Puerto Rico is a ‘desperate political stunt’
In 2017, Trump tossed rolls of paper towels into the crowd of people at a disaster relief distribution center in Puerto Rico, which was still reeling from the devastation of Hurricane Maria. In 2019, he told Republican lawmakers that he thought Puerto Rico had already received too much aid compared with Texas and Florida, and he did not want to give any more.
Earlier today, just weeks before election day, Trump announced a $13bn aid package to help Puerto Rico rebuild, in what is being widely reported as a transparent bid to pick up more support in Florida, where hurricane refugees are now considered a vital voting bloc in a state where just tens of thousands of voters could make a crucial difference.
For a Democratic candidate, Biden is getting record support from white voters
A new poll finds that Joe Biden has support from 49% of white voters. That would be a record: the majority of white voters vote Republican, and exit poll data shows that going back to 1972, Democrats have never gotten more than 47% of the white vote, and it’s sometimes dropped into the 30s.
But the poll, from NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist, also has what NPR reporter Domenico Montanaro calls a “warning sign” for Biden: his support among voters of color in the poll is much lower than the support Hillary Clinton received in 2016.
Biden leads Trump only 60% to 34% with nonwhite voters, “a smaller margin than the 74% to 21% Democrat Hillary Clinton won with them in 2016”, Montanaro notes.
Poll finds Biden has lead over Trump among both registered and likely voters
This is Lois Beckett in the Guardian’s Los Angeles bureau picking up live political coverage for this evening.
A new poll finds that Biden has a 52% to 43% lead over Trump among likely voters, as well as a substantial lead among registered voters. (The poll’s margin of error among likely voters is +/- 4.3 percentage points.)
The NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll focused for the first time on a subset of “likely voters,” those actually most likely to cast a ballot, as well as surveying a sample of people registered to vote.
That’s it from me today. The Guardian’s west coast team will take over the blog for the next few hours.
Here’s where the day stands so far:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reversed its widely criticized recommendation on coronavirus testing. The CDC said today that anyone who has had contact with someone who tested positive for the virus should receive a test, virtually reinstating the agency’s previous recommendation. The announcement came one day after after the New York Times reported that CDC scientists did not write the altered August guideline and actively raised objections to it.
The Trump administration will ban downloads of TikTok and WeChat starting Sunday. US intelligence officials have warned the Chinese apps pose a national security threat. Normal use of the TikTok app is expected to be blocked starting 12 November.
Trump and Biden are both campaigning today in Minnesota, as early voting begins in the state. Biden delivered a speech at a union training center in Duluth, once again criticizing Trump by characterizing the presidential election as a race of “Park Avenue versus Scranton”. Trump will speak at a campaign rally in Bemidji this evening.
Trump announced his administration would send $13bn in aid to Puerto Rico, as the island continues to recover from Hurricane Maria. A reporter asked the president at his press conference why the administration was sending the aid now, when the hurricane struck in 2017. Trump insisted it was because his administration had been working on the plan for a while, dodging a question about whether it was related to Puerto Rican voters in the crucial swing state of Florida.
A firefighter died battling the wildfire in California’s San Bernardino national forest, the US Forest Service said today. The devastating wildfires have already killed at least three dozen people and destroyed thousands of homes.
During his press conference, the president was asked if he believes he knows better than the experts in his administration, after Trump contradicted the directors of the CDC and the FBI this week.
“Yeah, in many cases, I do,” Trump replied.
Trump contradicted the Senate testimony of CDC director Robert Redfield on Wednesday, claiming Redfield was “confused” when he said a coronavirus vaccine would not be widely available until mid- to late 2021.
Last night, the president also took issue with the congressional testimony of FBI director Christopher Wray, who told the House that Russia was interfering in the 2020 elections “primarily to denigrate vice-president Biden and what the Russians see as kind of an anti-Russian establishment”.
Trump told reporters today, “I think we have a bigger problem with China than we do with Russia.”
Trump closed his press conference by once again spreading falsehoods about voting by mail, which he described as “the scam of all time”.
The president also implied he was expecting federal judges to interfere with the election results to prevent fraud, even though voter fraud is very rare.
“I think it’s going to be a terrible time for this country, and we’re counting on federal judges to do a great constitutional job,” Trump said. “Hopefully they’ll be able to see this clearly and stop it.”
Exiting the briefing room, Trump ignored a reporter who asked, “Is it still a scam if you win, sir?”
Tom Perez, the chairman of the Democratic national committee, quickly released a statement criticizing Trump’s announcement about sending $13bn in aid to Puerto Rico.
“Donald Trump has consistently treated Puerto Ricans as second-class citizens. His administration failed Puerto Rico when Hurricane Maria made landfall and the people desperately needed help, and throughout the recovery process,” Perez said.
“Puerto Ricans will not be fooled by his empty promises – the deaths, the suffering, and the struggles Puerto Ricans still face are a constant reminder that Trump talks plenty but does very little.”
Trump announced his administration was sending $13bn in aid to Puerto Rico, as the island continues to recover from Hurricane Maria.
After announcing the aid, Trump quickly pivoted to attacking his election opponent, Joe Biden.
“Biden’s devastated the island of Puerto Rico,” Trump said. “I’m the best thing that ever happened to Puerto Rico.”
Taking questions from reporters, Trump was asked why he was only sending the aid to Puerto Rico now, when Hurricane Maria struck the island in 2017.
The president claimed his administration had been working on the package for a while. When asked whether the announcement had anything to do with Puerto Rican voters in the crucial swing state of Florida, Trump did not directly answer, instead attacking Biden’s tenure as vice-president under Barack Obama.
President Donald Trump believes former Vice President Joe Biden uses “some kind of enhancement” to improve his debate performances.
“He is on some kind of enhancement in my opinion,” Trump said in an interview with Fox News host Laura Ingraham aired Tuesday.
Ingraham asked the president why he proposed a drug test for both candidates before the debates.
Trump said he watched Biden fail horribly in previous Democrat debates but looked much different in the final round with Sen. Bernie Sanders.
“He wasn’t Winston Churchill, but he was normal,” Trump said. “It was like an even deal. He got by it. And I said, ‘That was a different guy then the guy that was in the debates where Kamala just took him apart.’”
Trump said he would willing to take a drug test if Biden did the same: “I’ll take one. He’ll take one. We should both take a drug test.”
In an interview with the Washington Examiner’s Byron York, Trump compared the presidential debates to a “prizefight.”
“Well, it is a prizefight,” Trump said. “It’s no different from the gladiators, except we have to use our brain and our mouth. And our body to stand. I want all standing; they want to sit down.”
Trump made a similar proposal for a drug test before debating former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2016.
“At the beginning of her last debate, she was all pumped up,” Trump said, but then at the end of the debate “she could barely reach her car.”
More from Deborah Birx’s appearance on CNN. Covid-19 is seen by many as an urban disease that spreads in cities where people are crammed together, particularly after cities such as New York and Detroit were hit hard in the early stages of the pandemic. But Birx warned people in rural areas that Covid-19 is a danger for them too.
“To everybody who lives in a rural area, you are not immune or protected from this virus,” Birx said. “If you’re in multi-generational households, and there’s an outbreak in your rural area or in your city, you need to really consider wearing a mask at home, assuming that you’re positive, if you have individuals in your households with comorbidities … [the pandemic] is both rural and urban.”
She was also asked if schools should practice remote learning in areas where there is a 5% positivity rate.
“If you have high case load and active community spread, just like we are asking people not to go to bars, not to have household parties, not to create large spreading events, we are asking people to distance learn at this moment so we can get this epidemic under control,” Birx said.
Trump campaign adviser says election will not be delayed
Donald Trump campaign adviser Jason Miller is on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace.
He is asked about Trump trailing in the polls to Joe Biden.
“We think we’re in a great shape,” he says as polls show Trump trailing to his presumptive opponent in several key battleground states. Miller says Trump is leading “or within the margin of error” in states he needs to win in November. He adds that Trump was down to Clinton in 2016 at a similar stage, and says public polling is “lagging behind” private polls conducted by the Trump campaign.
He is then asked by Wallace if he will guarantee the Trump campaign will not accept information about Biden or his family from foreign officials or governments.
He says that Wallace has asked a “silly question … we’re going to beat Biden fair and square.” Wallace then asks Miller to give him a flat yes or no in regards to whether he would accept foreign information. “There is no foreign assistance in this campaign,” says Miller, not quite denying Wallace’s question. He also says Wallace should ask the same question to the Biden campaign.
The interview ends with Wallace asking Miller about Trump’s suggestion earlier this week that he could delay November’s election.
“The election is going to be on 3 November,” says Miller. He says it is actually Democrat governors who want the election delayed by introducing mail-in voting, where ballots can arrive after 3 November.
House speaker Nancy Pelosi turned her attention to Deborah Birx on ABC’s This Week, and didn’t exactly give her a ringing endorsement.
“I think the president has been spreading disinformation about the virus and [Birx] is his appointee so, I don’t have confidence there, no,” said Pelosi when asked if she had confidence in Birx.
Birx, , meanwhile, was asked about Pelosi’s comments when she appeared on CNN on Sunday morning. Birx said she believed Pelosi was referring to an article in the New York Times that depicted her as being too optimistic about the fight against the virus.
“This was not a pollyannish view. I’ve never been called pollyannish, or non-scientific, or non-data driven,” Birx said. “I will stake my 40-year career on those fundamental principles of using data to implement better programs and save lives.”
Reports earlier this week said Pelosi criticized Birx in a meeting with treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.
“Deborah Birx is the worst. Wow, what horrible hands you’re in,” Pelosi said according to Politico.
Pelosi is also to said to have described infectious diseases expert Anthony Fauci, who has been sidelined by the White House, as a “hero”.
Dr Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, has appeared on CNN’s State of the Union. She said that Covid-19 has taken a hold over large parts of the US, and is no longer restricted to large cities as was the trend in the early stages of the pandemic.
“What we are seeing today is different from March and April. It is extraordinarily widespread. It’s into the rural as equal urban areas,” Birx said.
She also warned people who have been to areas hit hard by the disease, such as Florida, to “assume you’re infected.”
Birx said she had been to 14 states in the last three weeks as part of her job, and had witnessed how Americans are continuing to travel across the country, potentially spreading the virus. “I can tell you across America right now, people are on the move,” she said.
More than 150,000 people have died in America due to Covid-19. According to Yahoo News, the Centers for Disease Control forecast earlier this week that the death toll could rise as high as 182,000 by 22 August.
Good morning.The main news is that Republicans have decided the press will be barred when Donald Trump is formally declared the party’s nominee for president later this month.
“Given the health restrictions and limitations in place within the state of North Carolina, we are planning for the Charlotte activities to be closed [to] press Friday, August 21–Monday, August 24,” a convention spokeswoman said.
“We are happy to let you know if this changes, but we are working within the parameters set before us by state and local guidelines regarding the number of people who can attend events.”
The Associated Press’s White House correspondent, Zeke Miller, has called the decision “ill-advised”, while veteran CNN host Wolf Blitzer called the decision to bar the press from a major part of the country’s democratic process “unthinkable”.
In a sign that the backlash may have got to the GOP, Miller later reported that “the decision is not final and that they are still working through press coverage options. Hopefully they’ll give the American people the access they deserve.”
US secretary of state Mike Pompeo characterized the foremost human rights priorities of the Trump administration as the protection of ‘private property’ and ‘religious freedom’.
Human rights groups quickly criticized the implication that human rights exist in a hierarchy, and the suggestion that some are more important than others. The Trump administration’s own human rights record has been under scrutiny for horrific violations, including putting children in cages, responding to peaceful protests with brutality, and attacking the free press.
More from the Guardian’s Julian Borger in Washington:
Pompeo, launching a draft report by a Commission on Unalienable Rights he established a year ago, also claimed that a proliferation of human rights asserted by different US and international institutions had the effect of diluting those rights he viewed as the most important.
“Many are worth defending in light of our founding; others aren’t,” Pompeo said at a launch ceremony in Philadelphia. He did not specify which rights he thought were superfluous, but the state department during his tenure has been aggressive in opposing references to reproductive and gender rights in UN and other multilateral documents.
In the report launched on Thursday, the authors – a mix of academics and activists – said they could not agree on the application of human rights standards to issues like “abortion, affirmative action, and capital punishment, to name a few”.
The Supreme Court voted Friday to expedite a court case compelling Donald Trump to release his tax returns.
The ruling is the latest development in Trump’s fight against a subpoena from the Manhattan district attorney for eight years of tax returns. Last week the court ruled Trump does not have broad immunity from such a subpoena but that he can still challenge it on other grounds.
The order passed Friday will allow the judgment to be issued more quickly than the standard 25 days. Trump’s lawyer said the team plans to file an amended complaint to raise new challenges to the state grand jury subpoena, a move the district attorney has called “a delay tactic”.
That’s it from me today. My west coast colleague, Kari Paul, will take over the blog for the next few hours.
Here’s where the day stands so far:
California’s governor, Gavin Newsom, unveiled the statewide plan for reopening schools. The plan would prevent most of the state’s 10,000 schools from resuming in-person instruction this fall because a majority of counties are included on the Newsom administration’s coronavirus monitoring list, as cases continue to rise in California.
The US again broke its record for the number of new coronavirus cases reported in one day. The country reported more than 77,000 new cases yesterday, and a poll out this morning indicates Trump is losing support because of the alarming trend. The Washington Post-ABC News poll found that 38% of Americans approve of Trump’s handling of the pandemic, down from 46% in May and 51% in March.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has been receiving treatment for a recurrence of cancer. The 87-year-old justice said she is “encouraged by the success of my current treatment” and intends to remain on the court.
Trump is reportedly weighing an executive order banning undocumented people from being counted in the 2020 census. Such a policy could prevent areas with high numbers of undocumented residents from getting proper funding and representation in the government. However, it’s unclear how the policy would be implemented, considering the supreme court already blocked the Trump administration’s attempt to add a citizenship question to the census.
The defense secretary, Mark Esper, effectively banned the display of the Confederate flag at military bases. Esperissued a memo on the display of flags at military bases, which included a list of acceptable flags to display. The Confederate flag was notably omitted from the list.
In his Fox News Sunday interview, Trump reiterated his false claim that the Joe Biden-Bernie Sanders unity document calls for defunding the police.
Fox News anchor Chris Wallace corrected Trump in the interview, which is set to air Sunday. The president responded to Wallace’s correction by demanding that an aide fetch a copy of the document.
The president made a similar claim during his blatantly political speech in the Rose Garden earlier this week.
Trump said on Tuesday, “The Biden-Sanders agenda is the most extreme platform of any major party nominee, by far, in American history. … They now want to abolish our police departments. They want to abolish our prisons, I guess.”
But Biden has repeatedly said he does not support the movement to defund the police, and Politifact gave Trump’s claim a rating of “Pants on Fire.”
Trump’s interview comes as his campaign seeks to paint Biden as an extreme liberal, but polls show voters view Biden as more of a moderate than the president.
More from the Guardian’s Mario Koran on California’s approach to reopening schools:
New guidance handed down by California creates for the first time a statewide approach to reopening schools as cases across the state continue to surge.
Until now, counties have been allowed a wider degree of discretion in how to move forward, which has created an uneven patchwork of plans.
That was seen this week when the state’s two largest school districts in Los Angeles and San Diego announced they’d open the school year with online classes only. Meanwhile, education officials in Orange county, between the two, recommended that students return to school with in-person instruction, without the use of masks.
The recommendations endorsed by the Orange County officials made the case that masks can lead to anxiety, depression and even learning disabilities — a claim, one doctor told me, that was not backed by any evidence that he was aware of.
An educational consultant told EdSource that governor Gavin Newsom made the decision to support school staff and insulate district officials from angry parents who want schools to reopen for in-person classes. Newsom’s move effectively takes that decision out of the hands of county school officials.
Fox News Sunday has released a teaser of Chris Wallace’s interview with Trump, and it features the president arguing with the news anchor about an easily verifiable fact.
Wallace noted the recent increase in shootings in many cities, and he asked Trump why he thinks such violence is on the rise now.
The president replied, “I explain it very simply by saying they’re Democrat-run cities. They’re liberally run. They’re stupidly run.”
Wallace responded by noting that many cities have long been run by Democratic mayors, so that doesn’t explain the recent alarming trend.
“They’ve run them poorly. It was always bad, but now it’s gotten totally out of control,” Trump said. The president then made a false claim about Joe Biden, saying of his election opponent, “It’s really because they want to defund the police, and Biden wants to defund the police.”
“No, sir, he does not,” Wallace interjected.
But Trump stood by his false claim, incorrectly saying that a unity platform endorsed by both Biden and Bernie Sanders embraces calls to defund the police.
In reality, Biden has repeatedly said he does not support the movement to defund the police and has instead called for reforming departments.
When Wallace tried to explain this to Trump, the president responded by ordering an off-screen aide to get him the document. “Let’s go! Get me the charter, please!” Trump says.
So make sure to watch the interview on Sunday because, if that teaser is any indication, it was clearly eventful.
More from the Guardian’s Mario Koran on California’s approach to reopening schools:
California’s plan to reopen schools, new today, includes requirements for personal protective equipment, physical distancing, distance learning and guidance for what should happen if students get sick.
Schools would not be able to reopen for in-person instruction until the counties they’re located in have been off a statewide monitoring list for 14 days, based on stable case rates.
Masks will be required for students in third grade and older; for students in second grade and younger, masks or face shields (which can be less intimidating to youngsters) will be strongly recommended.
Staff must maintain six feet of distance between each other and students, and each day would begin with checks for symptoms. If 5% of students at a school are sick, it would force a school closure.
Distance learning, which saw a disastrous rollout this spring, will also have new requirements: connectivity and devices for all kids, a requirement of daily live interaction with teachers and others students, assignments that are comparable to in-person classwork and lessons adapted for English learners and special education students.
Newsom blocks in-person instruction for most California schools this fall
The Guardian’s Mario Koran reports from California:
California governor Gavin Newsom has released guidelines on the safe reopening of schools, tying reopening plans to county health metrics.
Schools in counties that are on the state’s monitoring lists, as determined by case rates and community spread, will not be allowed to reopen for in-person classes this fall.
With 31 of California’s 58 counties now on the watch list, including the state’s most populous areas, that would mean most of the state’s 10,000 schools would start the school year without in person instruction.
Tensions are reportedly rising within Fox News, as the network attracts more criticism for its coverage of the recent protests against racism and police brutality.
Despite complaints from some of their black colleagues, Fox’s on-air talent has continued to disparage the Black Lives Matter movement and warn America is “under attack.” Host Tucker Carlson’s top writer was also recently forced out over past racist and sexist posts online.
The Daily Beast reports:
Two people familiar with the situation told The Daily Beast that Fox Corporation CEO Lachlan Murdoch personally approved what Carlson would say in his defensive Monday remarks addressing the exit of his top writer. Despite demands from Fox News executives that he pre-tape the segment and strike a conciliatory tone, Carlson barely sounded apologetic, knowing he had the full backing of the Murdoch heir.
A rep for Murdoch did not respond to a request for comment. But The Daily Beast spoke to more than a dozen Fox News insiders, who all suggested that behind the scenes there is a growing despair among employees about the network’s role in demonizing and spreading fear about Black Americans in particular.
One employee was especially angry, saying, ‘They created a cell—they created a white supremacist cell inside the top cable network in America, the one that directly influences the president… This is rank racism excused by Murdoch.’
Arizona recorded more coronavirus deaths, infections, hospitalizations and emergency-room visits in a single day than ever before in a crisis, in a day across the Sunbelt that sent a shudder through other parts of the country and led distant states to put their own reopening plans on hold.
In Florida, hospitals braced for an influx of patients, with the biggest medical center in Florida’s hardest-hit county, Miami’s Jackson Health System, scaling back elective surgeries and other procedures to make room for victims of the resurgence underway across the South and West, The Associated Press reports.
Vice President Mike Pence, head of the White House coronavirus task force, planned to visit Arizona today, where cases have spiked since stay-at-home orders expired in mid-May.
Arizona reported record single-day highs of almost 4,900 new Covid-19 cases, 88 new deaths, close to 1,300 ER visits and a running total of nearly 2,900 people in the hospital.
Florida recorded more than 6,500 new cases down from around 9,000 on some days last week, but still alarming and a running total of over 3,500 deaths.
Ahead of the Fourth of July, counties in South Florida are closing beaches to fend off large crowds that could spread the virus.
The run-up in cases has been blamed in part on what New Jersey’s governor called “knucklehead behavior” by Americans not wearing masks or obeying other social-distancing rules.
“Too many people were crowding into restaurants late at night, turning these establishments into breeding grounds for this deadly virus,” Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said in forbidding restaurants with seating for more than eight people from serving customers inside from midnight to 6am.
Health experts say the virus in Florida and other Southern states risks becoming uncontrollable, with case numbers too large to trace.
Marilyn Rauth, a senior citizen in Punta Gorda, said Florida’s reopening was “too much too soon.” “The sad thing is the Covid-19 spread will probably go on for some time though we could have flattened the curve with responsible leadership,” she said.
“Experience now has shown most people won’t social distance at beaches, bars, etc. The governor evidently has no concern for the health of the state’s citizens.”
Some distant states and cities that seemed to have tamed their outbreaks, including Colorado, Virginia, Delaware and New Jersey, hit pause or backtracked on some of their reopening plans for bars and restaurants.
And New York and New Jersey are asking visitors from 16 states from the Carolinas to California to quarantine themselves for two weeks.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city is delaying its resumption of indoor dining at restaurants, and not because of any rise in cases there.
The number of confirmed cases in the US per day has roughly doubled over the past month, hitting 44,800 on Tuesday, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University.
That is higher even than what the nation witnessed during the deadliest stretch of the crisis in mid-April through early May.
Donald Trump has just tweeted that he has “authorized the Federal Government to arrest anyone who vandalizes or destroys any monument, statue or other such Federal property in the US with up to 10 years in prison.”
He hasn’t cited it directly but last night there was a stand-off between police and protesters as there was an attempt to pull down a statue of former president Andrew Jackson near the White House.
WUSA-TV in Washington reported that police used pepper spray to move the protesters out of Lafayette Square, while videos posted on social media showed protesters had climbed on to the statue and tied ropes around it, then tried to pull it off its pedestal.
The 19th century president’s ruthless treatment of Native Americans has made his statue a target of demonstrators protesting racial injustice.
Trump tweeted about the attack on the statue late last night – again with the threat of 10 years jail.
The Associated Press is reporting that a Baltimore restaurant issued an apology Monday after a video showed a black woman and her son being denied service because of the boy’s clothes, while a white child dressed a similar way had been served.
The Atlas Restaurant Group, which owns Ouzo Bay, posted the apology on Facebook, saying it was disturbed by the incident and had put the manager seen in the video on “indefinite leave.”
This should never have happened. We are sickened by this incident. We sincerely apologize to Marcia Grant, her son and everyone impacted by this painful incident.
The video posted by Marcia Grant shows her son wearing athletic shorts, sneakers and an Air Jordan T-shirt. The unidentified manager tells Grant that her son’s outfit violates the restaurant’s dress code.
Grant turns her camera toward a white boy at the restaurant wearing a graphic T-shirt and similar-looking shorts who was being served, but the manager replies the child wasn’t wearing shorts like Grant’s son.
Atlas said they were immediately changing their policy so that children ages 12 and under aren’t subject to the dress code and said the dress code wasn’t “intended to be discriminatory.”
Kentucky and New York are voting today in what are going to be unusual primaries. Both of them have been delayed due to the coronavirus outbreak, and with Donald Trump and Joe Biden essentially confirmed as presidential nominees, there’s not much interest at the top of the ballot.
We also won’t be getting the results in anywhere near the usual timescale either. Mail-in ballots in Kentucky have until 27 June to be received, and in New York that deadline is 30 June – provided they are post-marked 23 June at the latest.
Two of the largest counties in Kentucky, Jefferson and Fayette, which include Louisville and Lexington respectively, have already said they will not be releasing any results until 30 June.
But if there isn’t much at stake for presidential candidates, that’s not true of the rest of the slate, especially in New York. Jonathan Easley and Julia Manchester have been reporting for The Hill on how Democrats in New York are bracing for a turbulent election day.
They say that there is growing consensus hat Rep. Eliot Engel, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, will lose to Jamaal Bowman, “potentially giving progressives their biggest primary victory of the cycle.”
You can read about the state of the race in New York here: The Hill – NY Democrats brace for primary night stunners
Today, in partnership with Consumer Reports and others, the Guardian is launching a one-year series of investigations highlighting the US water crisis. America’s water crisis is looking at the challenges many in the US face getting access to safe, clean, affordable water, and the injustices of those most at risk.
Bernie Sanders and Brenda Lawrence have written a joint op-ed, saying:
Not only do Americans have to deal with poor-quality and often toxic drinking water, we have the “privilege” of paying an arm and a leg for it. Furthermore, due to the economic meltdown caused by the coronavirus, millions of Americans who don’t know where their next paycheck will come from are now at risk of losing their water service. It should not be a radical idea to say that all families should be able to protect themselves from the coronavirus and other illnesses by practicing good handwashing and hygiene with affordable, clean water in their homes.
Read it here: Bernie Sanders and Brenda Lawrence – Clean water should be an American human right, not a government profit machine
Good morning, welcome to our live coverage of US politics. Here’s what we can expect coming up.
Today will see the emotional funeral of Rayshard Brooks at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia. Brooks was killed by police on 12 June.
Donald Trump will be looking to re-energise his re-election campaign after his Tulsa disaster with a trip to Arizona and a visit to the border wall.
Joe Biden will be taking part in a virtual fund-raiser with former president Barack Obama. It is the first time the two have appeared together since Obama endorsed him in April.
We can expect long lines in Kentucky for a primary where authorities have drastically reduced the number of polling locations in response, they say, to the coronavirus outbreak. New York votes as well.
I’m Martin Belam – you can get in touch with me at [email protected]
The president is expected to sign his executive order on policing tomorrow, according to multiplle reports.
Asked about the timing of the executive order moments ago, senior White House adviser Kellyanne Conway declined to say when specifically the order would be released.
Conway simply said Trump was “working around the clock” to get the issue addressed. Another senior adviser previously said that the order would look at ways to “bring community and police together.”
House Democrats have unveiled their own sweeping police reform bill, and Democratic leaderss have said they already have enough co-sponors to pass the bill, although it’s unclear if it can pass the Senate.
Meanwhile, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell has tapped Tim Scott, the only black Republican senator, to lead a group working to craft their own bill.
Joe Biden raised $80.8 million last month, as protests spread across the country in response to the police killing of George Floyd and Trump’s approval rating dropped by double digits.
Biden announced in an email to supporters that his campaign and two committees associated with the Democrats saw a surge in online donations last month.
According to the email, the number of Biden’s online donors has more than tripled since February, and more than half of last month’s donors were first-time contributors. The average donation to the campaign was $30.
“I’m in awe of this sum of money,” Biden told his supporters. “Just a few months ago, people were ready to write this campaign off. Now, we are making huge dents in Donald Trump’s warchest. Every single dollar is going to make sure he is only a one-term president.”
Trump has built an impressive fundraising operation powered by small-dollar donors, and campaign manager Brad Parscale said yesterday was the team’s single best online fundraising day yet, with the campaign bringing in $14 million on the president’s birthday.
Hollywood actor Ron Perlman has challenged the Texas Republican senator Ted Cruz to a wrestling match, offering to donate $50,000 to Black Lives Matter to mark the occasion.
Perlman, the star of Hellboy, The Name of the Rose, Sons of Anarchy and other hits, made the offer early on Monday morning, as part of what started as an unlikely online spat with the Republican Florida congressman Matt Gaetz.
Perlman and Gaetz were arguing about US Soccer’s George Floyd-protest-inspired decision to repeal a rule requiring its teams to stand for the national anthem, which earned Gaetz’s ire and subsequently that of Donald Trump.
Told by Gaetz to “leave the tough guy comments for those of us who face the voters”, Perlman tweeted a picture of the Ohio congressman Jim Jordan, a former wrestling coach, and said: “You’re lucky for this guy Matt. If it weren’t for him you’d be the ugliest politician walking.”
Perlman’s jibe at Jordan prompted Cruz to wade in, writing: “Listen Hellboy. You talk good game when you’ve got Hollywood makeup and stuntmen. But I’ll bet $10k – to the nonpolitical charity of your choice – that you couldn’t last five minutes in the wrestling ring with Jim Jordan without getting pinned. You up for it? Or does your publicist say too risky?”
Perlman replied by suggesting he and Cruz fight instead, saying he would “give 50k to Black Lives Matter and you can keep all the taxpayer money you were thinking of spending.”
The Supreme Court ruled existing federal law prohibits job discrimination against gay and transgender workers. In a 6-3 opinion written by conservative justice Neil Gorsuch, the court said Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which forbids job discrimination on the basis of sex and other factors, also covers sexual orientation and gender identity.
The family of Rayshard Brooks held a press conference in Atlanata. Brooks’ relatives thanked those who have protested since he was shot and killed by a white police officer, and they asked protesters to ensure the demonstrations remain peaceful.
Trump is facing more calls to cancel his planned Saturday rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Officials in Oklahoma have expressed concern about holding the large indoor rally while the coronavirus pandemic is still raging, but the president has shown no indication he will cancel the event.
In some coronavirus news, the Food and Drug Administration has withdrawn its emergency use authorizations for chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine as potential treatements against the virus.
The FDA’s chief scientist Denise M. Hinton said “the drug’s potential benefits for such use do not outweigh its known and potential risks” in a letter to Gary Disbrow, the acting director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, who requested the change.
Hinton said the anti-malaria drugs, which Trump previously touted as a potential “game-changer” in the fight against coronavirus, were “unlikely to produce an antiviral effect.”
Trump took hydroxychloroquine for two weeks as a prophylactic measure, despite FDA guidance to the contrary and concerns that the drug could cause complications for the 74-year-old president.
An adviser to Trump said the president is looking to sign an executive order on policing and “co-responders” this week.
Ja’Ron Smith, deputy assistant to the president, said the order would look at ways to “bring community and police together” after the police killings of George Floyd and Rayshard Brooks sparked protests across the country.
Smith told Fox News that the order would specifically look at the role of “co-responders.” “Co-responders would allow for police to do their job but bring in social workers and experts that deal with mental health and deal with issues such as drug addiction,” Smith said.
“There’s a better way to do policing, and we have great examples,” he added. Smith cited the example of Camden, New Jersey, which disbanded its police department in 2013 and reenvisioned it through progressive reforms.
Joe Biden has released a statement celebrating the Supreme Court’s decision on LGBTQ+ workers’ rights, calling it a “momentous step forward for our country.”
“Bfore today, in more than half of states, LGBTQ+ people could get married one day and be fired from their job the next day under state law, simply because of who they are or who they love,” the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee said.
“This landmark 6-3 ruling affirms that LGBTQ+ Americans are entitled to equal rights under the law.”
The former vice president noted the decision came in the middle of Pride Month, which celebrates LGBTQ+ history.
“This decision is another step in our march towards equality for all,” Biden said. “And while we celebrate this victory today, we know that our work is not yet done. As President, I look forward to signing into law the Equality Act, protecting the civil rights of LGBTQ+ Americans, and championing equal rights for all Americans.”
A Black Lives Matter banner has been removed from the US embassy in Seoul, after Trump expressed displeasure about it, according to Bloomberg News.
[Secretary of state Mike] Pompeo and Trump were both displeased about the banner, the people said. A large, multicolored ‘pride’ banner recognizing lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people was also removed on Monday. They were replaced with a banner commemorating the 70th anniversary of the end of the Korean War.
The embassy unveiled the banner on Saturday in support of the George Floyd protests, saying in a tweet that it “stands in solidarity with fellow Americans grieving and peacefully protesting to demand positive change.”
The six to three verdict is the biggest victory for LGBTQ+ rights since the court upheld marriage equality in 2015.
“Today, we must decide whether an employer can fire someone simply for being homosexual or transgender. The answer is clear. An employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex. Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids,” justice Neil Gorsuch wrote.
The three cases the court heard, Altitude Express Inc v Zarda, Bostock v Clayton county, and R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOCconcerned whether or not a federal ban on sex discrimination forbids employment discrimination against LGBTQ+ workers.
The Harris Funeral Homes case centered on Aimee Stephens, a trans woman fired after her boss claimed it would violate “God’s commands” if he allowed her “to deny [her] sex while acting as a representative of [the] organization.”
Donald Zarda and Gerald Bostock, both gay men, alleged they were fired from their jobs because of their sexual orientation.
The gun rights cases represented an opportunity for the conservative-leaning Supreme Court to expand the scope of the Second Amendment.
In declining to hear the cases, the justices leave in place state laws that gun rights activists have argued violate the right to bear arms.
The court has not heard a major gun rights case since 2010, when the justices ruled in McDonald v Chicago that state governments had a limited ability to restrict the right to bear arms.
Justices Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavnaugh argued in their dissent that the court needed to examine the issue in the wake of recent state laws imposing additional restrictions on gun ownership.
“This Court would almost certainly review the constitutionality of a law requiring citizens to establish a justifiable need before exercising their free speech rights,” the pair of conservative justices wrote.
The Supreme Court has declined to take up 10 cases related to gun rights, which will leave in place lower-court decisions on issues such as owning assault weapons and openly carrying firearms.
Justices Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh wrote a dissenting opinion on the court’s decision not to hear the appeals.
“The text of the Second Amendment protects ‘the right of the people to keep and bear Arms,’” the two justices wrote.
“Yet, in several jurisdictions throughout the country, law-abiding citizens have been barred from exercising the fundamental right to bear arms because they cannot show that they have a ‘justifiable need’ or ‘good reason’ for doing so. One would think that such an onerous burden on a fundamental right would warrant this Court’s review.”
This is Joan Greve in Washington, taking over for Martin Belam.
A top Army general has banned displays of the Confederate flag on all bases in Korea, according to the military outlet Task & Purpose.
Army General Robert Abrams reportedly said in a memo released early this morning that the Confederate flag “does not represent the values of U.S. Forces assigned to serve in the Republic of Korea.”
“While I acknowledge some might view it as a symbol of regional pride, many others in our force see it as a painful reminder of hate, bigotry, treason, and devaluation of humanity,” Abrams wrote in the memo.
“Regardless of perspective, one thing is clear: it has the power to inflame feelings of racial division. We cannot have that division among us.” Abrams ordered all US commanders in Korea to remove any displays of the Confederate flag.
The memo comes less than a week after Trump said he would “not even consider” renaming military bases named after Confederate generals, which the Pentagon has said it is open to considering.
Mayor Sandy Stimpson of Mobile, Alabama, has confirmed that the History Museum of Mobile has received the statue of Confederate Admiral Raphael Semmes. He says it will be displayed there in a way which places it into “the appropriate historic context”
The statue had stood on the Mobile waterfront for 120 years until taken down on 5 June. The statue of Semmes, who died in 1877, had been erected in in 1900, the year before Alabama ratified a Constitution that established white supremacy in the state by essentially disenfranchising African Americans and poorer white citizens. It was rededicated as recently as 2000 – with a memorial plaque and ceremony featuring Confederate flags; red, white and blue balloons; and a cannon salute.
There may yet be legal ramifications from the move. “I have no doubt that moving the statue from public display was the right thing to do for our community going forward” said Mayor Stimpson on Twitter.
However, Attorney General Steve Marshall had sent a letter to the mayor after the statue’s removal saying the city could be subject to a $25,000 fine for permanently moving the statue, an action that would violate a state law protecting monuments over 40 years old. Marshall’s office has also been pursuing legal actions against the city of Birmingham for removing a confederate monument.
From Nunzio Apostolico representing Pope Benedict in the United States, Cardinal Carlo Maria Viganò was transferred to the to the Diocese of Ulpiana (Pristina Kosovo) after he publicized a 7,000 word letter asking for the resignation of Pope Francis, accusing him of covering up sexual abuse and giving comfort to a “homosexual current” in the Vatican.
Today, from Pristina, he wrote the following open letter to US President Donald Trump.
June 7, 2020 Holy Trinity Sunday
In recent months we have been witnessing the formation of two opposing sides that I would call Biblical: the children of light and the children of darkness. The children of light constitute the most conspicuous part of humanity, while the children of darkness represent an absolute minority. And yet the former are the object of a sort of discrimination which places them in a situation of moral inferiority with respect to their adversaries, who often hold strategic positions in government, in politics, in the economy and in the media. In an apparently inexplicable way, the good are held hostage by the wicked and by those who help them either out of self-interest or fearfulness.
These two sides, which have a Biblical nature, follow the clear separation between the offspring of the Woman and the offspring of the Serpent. On the one hand there are those who, although they have a thousand defects and weaknesses, are motivated by the desire to do good, to be honest, to raise a family, to engage in work, to give prosperity to their homeland, to help the needy, and, in obedience to the Law of God, to merit the Kingdom of Heaven. On the other hand, there are those who serve themselves, who do not hold any moral principles, who want to demolish the family and the nation, exploit workers to make themselves unduly wealthy, foment internal divisions and wars, and accumulate power and money: for them the fallacious illusion of temporal well-being will one day – if they do not repent – yield to the terrible fate that awaits them, far from God, in eternal damnation.
In society, Mr. President, these two opposing realities co-exist as eternal enemies, just as God and Satan are eternal enemies. And it appears that the children of darkness – whom we may easily identify with the deep state which you wisely oppose and which is fiercely waging war against you in these days – have decided to show their cards, so to speak, by now revealing their plans. They seem to be so certain of already having everything under control that they have laid aside that circumspection that until now had at least partially concealed their true intentions. The investigations already under way will reveal the true responsibility of those who managed the Covid emergency not only in the area of health care but also in politics, the economy, and the media. We will probably find that in this colossal operation of social engineering there are people who have decided the fate of humanity, arrogating to themselves the right to act against the will of citizens and their representatives in the governments of nations.
We will also discover that the riots in these days were provoked by those who, seeing that the virus is inevitably fading and that the social alarm of the pandemic is waning, necessarily have had to provoke civil disturbances, because they would be followed by repression which, although legitimate, could be condemned as an unjustified aggression against the population. The same thing is also happening in Europe, in perfect synchrony. It is quite clear that the use of street protests is instrumental to the purposes of those who would like to see someone elected in the upcoming presidential elections who embodies the goals of the deep state and who expresses those goals faithfully and with conviction. It will not be surprising if, in a few months, we learn once again that hidden behind these acts of vandalism and violence there are those who hope to profit from the dissolution of the social order so as to build a world without freedom: Solve et Coagula, as the Masonic adage teaches.
Although it may seem disconcerting, the opposing alignments I have described are also found in religious circles. There are faithful Shepherds who care for the flock of Christ, but there are also mercenary infidels who seek to scatter the flock and hand the sheep over to be devoured by ravenous wolves. It is not surprising that these mercenaries are allies of the children of darkness and hate the children of light: just as there is a deep state, there is also a deep church that betrays its duties and forswears its proper commitments before God. Thus the Invisible Enemy, whom good rulers fight against in public affairs, is also fought against by good shepherds in the ecclesiastical sphere. It is a spiritual battle, which I spoke about in my recent Appeal which was published on May 8.
For the first time, the United States has in you a President who courageously defends the right to life, who is not ashamed to denounce the persecution of Christians throughout the world, who speaks of Jesus Christ and the right of citizens to freedom of worship. Your participation in the March for Life, and more recently your proclamation of the month of April as National Child Abuse Prevention Month, are actions that confirm which side you wish to fight on. And I dare to believe that both of us are on the same side in this battle, albeit with different weapons.
For this reason, I believe that the attack to which you were subjected after your visit to the National Shrine of Saint John Paul II is part of the orchestrated media narrative which seeks not to fight racism and bring social order, but to aggravate dispositions; not to bring justice, but to legitimize violence and crime; not to serve the truth, but to favor one political faction. And it is disconcerting that there are Bishops – such as those whom I recently denounced – who, by their words, prove that they are aligned on the opposing side. They are subservient to the deep state, to globalism, to aligned thought, to the New World Order which they invoke ever more frequently in the name of a universal brotherhood which has nothing Christian about it, but which evokes the Masonic ideals of those want to dominate the world by driving God out of the courts, out of schools, out of families, and perhaps even out of churches.
The American people are mature and have now understood how much the mainstream media does not want to spread the truth but seeks to silence and distort it, spreading the lie that is useful for the purposes of their masters. However, it is important that the good – who are the majority – wake up from their sluggishness and do not accept being deceived by a minority of dishonest people with unavowable purposes. It is necessary that the good, the children of light, come together and make their voices heard. What more effective way is there to do this, Mr. President, than by prayer, asking the Lord to protect you, the United States, and all of humanity from this enormous attack of the Enemy? Before the power of prayer, the deceptions of the children of darkness will collapse, their plots will be revealed, their betrayal will be shown, their frightening power will end in nothing, brought to light and exposed for what it is: an infernal deception.
Mr. President, my prayer is constantly turned to the beloved American nation, where I had the privilege and honor of being sent by Pope Benedict XVI as Apostolic Nuncio. In this dramatic and decisive hour for all of humanity, I am praying for you and also for all those who are at your side in the government of the United States. I trust that the American people are united with me and you in prayer to Almighty God.
United against the Invisible Enemy of all humanity, I bless you and the First Lady, the beloved American nation, and all men and women of good will.
+ Carlo Maria Viganò
Titular Archbishop of Ulpiana Former Apostolic Nuncio to the United States of America
Donald Trump has praised the US Secret Service for confronting protesters who massed outside the White House on Friday night, tweeting that had any of the crowd breached the fence, they “would have been greeted with the most vicious dogs, and most ominous weapons, I have ever seen”.
It was the president’s latest potentially inflammatory response to protests which have erupted across the US over the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man who died while being arrested by police in Minneapolis.
A white officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck was charged with murder but violent protests have prompted national guard deployments, raising tensions everywhere.
On Friday, Trump tweeted, “When the looting starts, the shooting starts”, a phrase with racist origins which was censored by Twitter.
Trump then claimed he hadn’t known the inflammatory nature of the phrase, let alone had intended to call for violence against his own citizens. He also expressed his “deepest condolences and most heartfelt sympathies to the family of George Floyd”.
Those words were more in keeping with those of Joe Biden, Trump’s presumptive opponent in the presidential election in November. The former vice-president spoke to Floyd’s family and issued a video address in which he said: “This is no time for incendiary tweets. This is no time to encourage violence. This is a national crisis, and we need real leadership right now.”
On Friday night, as protests reached the White House gates, Trump turned back to incendiary tweeting, electioneering on the back of protests, riots and looting in cities across the US.
Outside the White House, people hurled bricks, bottles and other objects at Secret Service and US park police officers in riot gear behind barricades.
The crowd of hundreds chanted “No justice, no peace” and “Say his name: George Floyd”. The protest went on for several hours before police declared it “unlawful” and ordered everyone to leave. Dozens of officers pushed forward with their shields and fired off streams of pepper spray at protesters.
In a statement on Saturday, the Secret Service said it made six arrests and “multiple” officers and agents were injured.
Trump said he watched the events from the White House and that the Secret Service did a “great job”.
The president added: “They let the ‘protesters’ scream and rant as much as they wanted, but whenever someone got too frisky or out of line, they would quickly come down on them, hard – didn’t know what hit them.”
Without evidence, the president claimed the protesters were “professionally” organized but had failed to breach the White House perimeter.
“If they had they would have been greeted with the most vicious dogs, and most ominous weapons, I have ever seen. That’s when people would have been really badly hurt, at least,” Trump tweeted.
Trump rounded off the flurry of tweets by attacking Muriel Bowser, the mayor of Washington DC, for not sending DC police to help.
This followed a theme, in which the president has responded to the turmoil by blaming riots on Democratic mayors and state governors and lamenting the damage caused to businesses during the unrest.
In subsequent tweets, the president again claimed without evidence the protest was “professionally managed” and involved “organised groups”. The protesters, he said, “had little to do with the memory of George Floyd. They were just there to cause trouble … Tonight, I understand, is MAGA NIGHT AT THE WHITE HOUSE???”
It was not immediately clear if the president was calling for a counter-protest by his supporters, an event which would be likely to enflame tensions already running high.
Trump and the first lady, Melania Trump, were due on Saturday to fly to Florida for the rescheduled launch of a manned SpaceX mission, their public schedule bringing them back to the White House at 8.15pm.